Kingsley Flood's accidental Americana

September 30, 2010|By Erik Maza, The Baltimore Sun

Kingsley Flood is an Americana band by accident.

Two years ago, singer Naseem Khuri, 30, was just another graduate student slumming it in Cambridge and pursuing a master's in public policy at Harvard.

But through a roommate ad, he wound up living next door to Nick Balkin, a 30-year-old guitarist who was then playing with a Boston band, and the two struck a friendship and a working relationship.

You might say Craigslist turned Khuri into a rock 'n' roller.

"I was gonna do some fancy international relations job," said Khuri, who now lives in Washington. "I never set out to be in a rock 'n' roll band. I just had these songs tucked away."

Friday, he and the other four members of Kingsley Flood play Hampden's Golden West Cafe as part of their first multicity tour.

The band's first album, "Dust Windows," bounds along like a tumbleweed across an empty town square, one picking up speed suddenly and from out of nowhere.

That folksy sound was unintended. The band members don't even like Americana. Balkin's former band was strictly Britpop. It just happened that their original guitarist also played the fiddle, and they had to incorporate it somehow.

When he penned these songs, Khuri says there were elements of Lucinda Williams and bluegrass in them, but mainly he was thinking of indie rock.

"I guess we're an Americana band?" he said, uncertain. "It just sort of happened. Now I'm writing with that in mind." But, he adds, the band members want to knock around the genre some instead of just coloring inside the lines.

One of their experiments in genre-bending is in how the music is performed.

"After hearing the album, people are surprised at how we sound," he said. "It's not like a punk show, but we bring a lot of energy to those shows."

But it's just in being who they are that the band is expanding the boundaries of that traditional sound. There aren't too many city musicians rocking the fiddle in these parts.

"We're all Northeast folks who don't drive pickup trucks," he says. "We're urban. I guess we're resisting all the stereotypes, and saying, 'Hey, this is our sound and we like it.' We don't have to abide by all the rules."

Kingsley Flood plays Friday at Golden West Cafe, 1105 W 36th St. Baltimore band Herd of Main Street also performs. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets, $7, are sold at the door. Call 410-889-8891 or go to goldenwestcafe.net.

ermaza@baltsun.com

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